Rabat – A low-income housing project in the city of Bouskoura, south of Casablanca, is at the heart of a real-estate scandal as frustrated and distressed beneficiaries protest the long years of delay in handing over the keys to their properties.
Owners have been waiting for more than four years for the delivery of their houses. Although they have already paid for their own houses, many of the distressed families are still bearing the burden of paying rent. Others have made significant advance payments, pending the completion of the construction works.
Bzioui Immo, the real estate company responsible for building the Bassatine Bouskoura project, is seemingly acting with indifference after neglecting the intervention of local authorities.
The governor of Nouaceur province, Abdellah Chater, is said to have intervened in hopes of finding “a peaceful and commonly agreed solution.” But Bzioui Immo, who has reportedly been insouciant in its attitude toward disappointed buyers, is yet to address the concerns of hundreds of increasingly frustrated families.
The company kept delaying the handover date by six months under the excuse that the properties are undergoing reparation works.
Initially advertised as a social housing initiative for low-income people, the Bassatine Bouskoura project was turned into a medium-standing project in 2017 when another real estate promoter took over. But the company went on to raise the prices of the properties.
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This means that the story has two categories of disgruntled customers: one that made advance payments in 2015 and a second group that did the same after Bzioui Immo took over the project in 2017.
Testimonies of affected people show that many paid an initial sum of MAD 250,000 ($28,000) out of MAD 450,000 ($50,400). They believed that they were paying such considerable sums for medium-standing housing when in fact the project is a social housing scheme.
A number of the dismayed customers told Telquel Arabi that the company increased the prices of apartments from MAD 250,000 to more than MAD 300,000 and is now falsely promoting them as medium-standing apartments.
Corroborating Telquel’s story, Moroccan newspaper Assabah reported on March 29 that many people gave advance payments to the new real estate promoter on the basis that their apartments would be medium-standing.
According to Assabah, the buyers were left astonished when the real estate company requested that they bring a certificate of non-property a document required solely for social housing.
This led them to realize that they had been deceived into paying extra money for social housing that is partially financed by the government. Under Morocco’s property law, social housing is sold at a maximum price of MAD 250,000.
Victims have already resorted to legal action to reclaim their money, but the company’s bank account was empty, making judicial seizure impossible, according to Assabah.